Volleyball Rallies to Defeat Alabama

Oct. 15, 2010

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LEXINGTON, Ky. - After dropping the opening set, the Kentucky volleyball team rallied back and capped a 3-1 (15-25, 25-22, 25-19, 25-12) victory over Alabama in stylish fashion with a dominating fourth set to clinch the match in front of 1,202 fans at Memorial Coliseum Friday night.

Kentucky (10-9, 4-5) persevered despite the early deficit and was led by outstanding offensive performances from freshman Whitney Billings and junior Becky Pavan. Billings posted her fifth career double-double with a team-high 14 kills and 12 digs. Pavan contributed another super performance after a career day in a win over Arkansas a week ago. Pavan drilled 13 kills on .500 hitting while adding a team-best four blocks. Pavan has committed just two errors in the last eight sets of action.

"It was great to see Becky have another great offensive night," UK coach Craig Skinner said. "Whitney terminated a lot of balls for us tonight which was also a key for us."

Setter Christine Hartmann dished out 40 assists and added 12 scoops to earn her fourth career double-double effort. Hartmann found five players for six or more kills and the Blue and White hit .248 for the match. Sophomore Stephanie Klefot added her second consecutive match with 21 or more digs with 21 scoops against the Tide. Klefot has now earned seven career matches with 20 or more digs, including six this season.

"I was really pleased to see our seniors step up in game three in a big way when we really needed it," Skinner said. "Our floor defense was exceptional again tonight. We started out slow, but I was glad to see us get back into rhythm as the match went on."

Senior Lauren Rapp totaled eight kills and matched that with eight digs. Classmate Blaire Hiler added seven kills, while junior Gretchen Giesler chipped in with six hammers and four digs. Freshman Jessi Greenberg matched a career best with nine digs to aid the UK cause.

Kentucky was at its best in the match-clinching fourth set victory. Pavan tossed down two kills to open the fourth frame and it would be all the closer Alabama would get as UK rolled to an easy 25-12 victory.

Klefot found a spot for an ace to give UK a 3-0 lead. Kentucky stretched its advantage to 13-4 after Hartmann took a turn to find an open hole in the defense. UK posted 11 kills in the frame, but it was its defensive effort that claimed the set. Kentucky limited Alabama to just nine kills on .026 hitting while forcing the Tide into eight errors. Kentucky had six blocks and 20 digs in the stanza as Pavan led the way with four kills and three blocks.

Alabama began the match to earn an early 1-0 lead behind a 25-15 win. The Tide totaled 14 kills on an impressive .406 hitting percentage. Kentucky totaled just 11 kills on a mere .091 hitting clip, despite eight kills from the hands of Billings and Rapp combined.

The Wildcats responded with a 25-22 set two victory to even the match at one set apiece heading into the locker room.

Billings opened the scoring with an ace to give the Wildcats the early lead that would feature 10 ties and four lead changes. Alabama earned a 5-4 edge, but then the Wildcats tallied a point off of a kill from Hiler. The teams would exchange points back and forth until UK broke open for an 18-17 edge behind a kill from Pavan. Hartmann ended the set with a kill on an overpass.

Kentucky's offense was spectacular in the fourth stanza with a match-high 16 kills on .417 hitting. Hiler and Pavan each earned four kills in the set while Hartmann dished out 13 assists.

Billings once again opened the scoring with a thunderous kill for an early 1-0 lead. The teams traded points back and forth in the early going in a stanza that appeared close to start with as the teams held 18 ties and six leads changed hands.

With the score at 18-18, Hiler made the crowd come to its feet with consecutive monstrous kills. After a kill from the Tide made the score 21-19 in favor of the Blue and White, the Wildcats would roll to score the final four points and claim the set. In the run Rapp, Giesler and Hartmann had a kill while Hiler added a service ace to cap off the run.

Kentucky returns to action on Sunday, Oct. 17 with a home match against Mississippi State. First serve is slated for 1:30 p.m. ET at Memorial Coliseum.

Follow along all season long with the Wildcats at UKathletics.com.